Joe Gambles celebrates his Boulder Ironman victory on Sunday. More photos and video: DailyCamera.com
Joe Gambles celebrates his Boulder Ironman victory on Sunday. More photos and video: DailyCamera.com (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)

Australian Joe Gambles once again overwhelmed the bike section of the Boulder Ironman 70.3 triathlon Sunday to capture his fourth consecutive championship in dominating fashion.

The women's pro race was much closer with Great Britain athletes Jodie Swallow and Rachel Joyce separated by just 4 seconds in the transition from the 56-mile bike ride to the 13.1-mile run. But Swallow eventually pulled away and cruised to a similarly easy victory finishing in 4 hours, 7 minutes, 37 seconds and 1:24.41 ahead of Joyce.

While both winners wowed onlookers with impressive efforts to earn $10,000 each in first-place prize money , no one matched the Father's Day inspiration provided and emotion displayed by Great Britain's Tim Don, who managed to cut a 4-minute deficit after the bike in half to finish second to Gambles in the men's pro race.

Don reached the finish line while Gambles was already in the midst of his finish line interview. Don completed the course in 3:44.5. It didn't matter a lick that he was 1:52.31 behind Gambles winning time of 3:42.13.

Don paused at the finish line seemingly almost unable to cross it. Maybe he couldn't believe he had reached it after virtually no substantial training in the two weeks leading up to the race.

Training just wasn't anywhere near the top of the priority list after Don and his wife, Kelly, learned their 3-year-old daughter, Matilda, needed brain surgery to remove a baseball sized cyst from her brain. The cyst was discovered during an MRI after weeks of failed attempts to control severe headaches.

The Dons have spent much of the past two weeks at Children's Hospital in Denver before, during and after the successful procedure. Matilda is home now recovering.

So there Don was, the bushy-haired former world champion shuddering as he unleashed a wave of emotion and stress carried a much longer distance than the 70.3 miles the course covered.

"We left the hospital on Friday afternoon," Don said. "It puts life into perspective. ...I'm just thankful that everyone is safe and happy and I'm just a very, very lucky guy."

Don said he felt rusty on the bike after a week sleeping in a hospital chair. The bike is where Gambles excels and it's where he made his mark again Sunday.

Gambles was the seventh man out of the water following the 1.2-mile swim. He moved up only one spot during the transition from the swim to the bike, but he was well on his way to a commanding lead midway through the 56-mile cycling portion of the race. He opened up a 1:25.00 advantage after 29 miles on the bike and he racked his bike, changed his shoes and was completely out of view with a 4-minute advantage by the time Don reached the second transition area.

Jodie Swallow nears the finish line during the Boulder Ironman on Sunday. Swallow won the women’s pro race.
Jodie Swallow nears the finish line during the Boulder Ironman on Sunday. Swallow won the women's pro race. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)

Gambles said the fact that he lives along the course and rides the area regularly in training helps give him an advantage, even though most of the other elite competitors in the field also live or train in Boulder. He said he trained to put the hammer down on the first 10 miles of the bike following advice from his coach and it paid off.

"That's our whole thing now," Gambles said. "I'm training so hard and training like a cyclist. He has helped me so much."

Gambles was quick to note that he might not have won so easily and might not have pulled off the four-peat at all if Don hadn't endured such a taxing buildup to the race. It's not often a winner by nearly 2 minutes winds up in awe of the effort from the man he beat. That was the case with Gambles paying tribute to Don and his family after the race.

"It's incredible, amazing," Gambles said. "I know he was probably running on pure emotion the first 10 miles of the run. It got him a long way and very close to me.

"I don't know how he fronted up today and raced. I don't think I could do it. ...It was pretty impressive by him."

Gambles said Sunday's victory was a solid stepping stone to his final three races of the year including the 70.3 world championships in Septembers and the Kona Ironman in October.

"It's an exciting year and I just hope it continues this way," he said.

On the women's side with both Swallow and Joyce owning previous world championships, the fact they were so close entering the run seemed to promise an exciting finish.

Joyce, who described herself as 'a bit of diesel engine" who takes awhile to get rolling, did her best to make it happen. She fell behind in the first loop of the run but managed to catch Swallow in the second half before falling back again.

"I know how tough she is and she pulled away again," Joyce said. "I got a bit low on energy. I was looking for Coke and gels. I just had nothing left to give in those final kind of four miles."

Swallow said she knew she could win the race in the moments after Joyce caught her during the run because she could hear Joyce breathing harder than her.

"I've never won a race like that before with a huge gap way off the front and I stay there," Swallow said.

Boulder's Laura Bennett was the first American across the finish line in the women's race, finishing in fifth place 6:02 behind Swallow.

Ben Hoffman was the first American man to finish. He was sixth, 5:44 behind Gambles.

The race paid a combined total of $25,000 in prize money to the first six finishers in both the men's and women's races.

Men's pro race

1. Joe Gambles, Australia, 3:42.13. 2. Tim Don, Great Britain, 3:44.05. 3. Richie Cunningham, Australia, 3:46.54. 4. Callum Millward, New Zealand, 3:47.23. 5. Paul Matthews, Australia, 3:47.50. 6. Ben Hoffman, United States, 3:47.57. 7. James Seear, Australia, 3:51.38. 8. Kevin Collington, United States, 3:52.23. 9. Paul Ambrose, Australia, 3:55.30. 10. Jordon Jones, United States, 3:59.09.

Women's pro race

1. Jodie Swallow, Great Britain, 4:07.37. 2.Rachel Joyce, Great Britain, 4:09.00. 3. Leanda Cave, Great Britain, 4:13.03. 4. Rebekah Keat, Australia, 4:13.23. 5. Laura Bennett, United States, 4:13.38. 6. Jeanni Seymour, South Africa, 4:17.36. 7. Mandy McLane, 4:22.57. 8. Lesley Smith, United States, 4:26.56. 9. Whitney Garcia-McCain, United States, 4:30.59. 10. Sarah Graves, United States, 4:35.27.

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or on Twitter: @kyleringo.